Note to news media: A press briefing on this topic is scheduled for 4 p.m. August 17 in Room 303 A-B of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, with live access via the Internet.
Chemical Society to honor “Heroes of Chemistry” during National Meeting
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 13, 2008 — Bruce Roth’s name may not be on the tip of many tongues, but his invention has been on more than 26 million in the United States alone. Inventor of Lipitor, the cholesterol-lowering pill that is the world’s largest selling drug, Roth is among 25 unsung scientific heroes who are being inducted into an American Chemical Society (ACS) hall of fame called the Heroes of Chemistry.
The other new Heroes include Karen E. Lackey, Glaxo SmithKline Pharmaceuticals, for work on discovery of a new breast cancer drug; a team from Pfizer Global Research & Development that discovered a new drug for HIV infection; a team from Wyeth Research that discovered and developed a new drug for renal cell carcinoma; and scientists from Exxon Mobil Corporation and Albemarle Corporation who discovered a way to make cleaner diesel fuel.
“Heroes of Chemistry strives for greater recognition of scientists like these who, like chemistry itself, often wear a cloak of invisibility so far as public awareness is concerned,” said Bruce E. Bursten, Ph.D., president of the American Chemical Society and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “Their dedication and scientific contributions save lives and make life healthier and happier for billions of people around the world.”
The 2008 Heroes of Chemistry will be honored on Aug. 17 in Philadelphia during the 236th National Meeting of the ACS, the world’s largest scientific society. The awards ceremony and dinner in the Four Seasons hotel will include a keynote speech by former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison. Jemison, a physician and chemical engineer, became the first black woman to travel in space when she flew on the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992.
Roth set foot on the path toward inventing the molecule — atorvastatin — that became Lipitor in 1982, when he joined the Warner-Lambert/Parke Davis Co. in Ann Arbor, Mich., as part of a project to discover drugs to inhibit the body’s production of cholesterol. After synthesizing atorvastatin, he served as the lead discovery chemist who helped shepherded Lipitor through clinical trials. Pfizer Incorporated merged with Warner-Lambert in 2000 and markets Lipitor.
Michael Varney, Ph.D., a vice president of Genentech, the pharmaceutical firm in South San Francisco, Calif., which Roth joined in 2007, termed those achievements “monumental” in nominating Bruce as a Hero of Chemistry.
“Currently, Lipitor is the largest selling pharmaceutical in the history of mankind, with annual sales of over $13 billion worldwide,” Varney said. “The low density lipoprotein lowering ability of Lipitor has contributed to the reduction of countless cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and stroke. By virtue of its clinical benefit, Lipitor has saved the lives of many people, reduced the pain and suffering of many people, and saved society and the health care system billions of dollars.”
Started in 1996, the Heroes of Chemistry program honors chemical innovators in industry “whose work has led to the welfare and progress of humanity” in a significant way in the past decade. Candidates are nominated by their companies and an ACS panel review the nominations with an eye to recognizing research that has lead to the successful development and commercial sale of a technological product.”
The other 2008 Heroes of Chemistry have made extraordinary contributions, according to the review panel. They are:
Additional information on the 2008 Heroes, and the Heroes program, is available from Michael Bernstein (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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— Mike Woods